|NAME||Charles Robert Byrne aka Charlie|
|MILITARY SERIAL NO.||83|
|UNIT||6th Australian Light Horse|
|ENLISTED||Sydney 18 September 1914|
|DISCHARGED||Sydney 14 January 1916 – Medically Unfit|
Charles Byrne’s block of 1,277 acres was in the County of Pottinger, Parish of Goragilla, Gunnedah Land District. He wrote to the Director of Soldier Settlements on 22 January 1922 asking when he could expect to receive his loan.
My land cannot become productive until I have stock which I cannot get until I have the loan. In the interim I have to live – there are chaps here who have been waiting four or five months without results and it frightens me’.
He wrote again in July of 1922, enquiring about the delay getting his advance, ‘Have been here six months and have to rabbit to keep body and soul together … can’t you guarantee the money in a certain time and keep your word’?
It appears Byrne had received the advance by the end of the month, although there were problems which were subsequently dealt with by his solicitor, about a consignment of wire that was sent to the wrong address and involved a very high cost for freight. Solicitor Wilkins advised the Under Secretary that the Department (of Lands) accept responsibility for the cost of freight because they were not ‘entirely blameless in the matter’.
Early in May 1923, Charlie wrote requesting that ‘his grant be re-allotted’. This simply meant that money originally put aside to be used for clearing could now be used for fencing. He believed that it ‘was a physical impossibility for a man to do his own fencing – a prolonged job that would be like a festering sore … I can do the clearing but can’t do the fencing’. Ultimately, only 50% of the money he needed for fencing was allowed.
I am a worker and a sticker and no man has a greater desire to make good than I. I growl and howl a hell of a lot, but if I have to find (another) 50% cash … then I can’t see my block ever fenced.
He wrote a second letter on 26 May complaining about this.
Soldier settlement business is a grim affair. There are those amongst us who are sober minded men with our futures before us. We are stickers and won’t be licked. We went through something akin to hell which has not left us quite normal. We are nervy for the most part and have our bad days’.
Who was to pay for Charlie’s fencing continued to be a problem for him. The man he wanted to do the work, ‘the best man in the district’, was not keen to do it through the Repat. (sic) as there had been considerable delay getting paid for work he had previously undertaken for them. Charlie continued to write throughout June 1923, hoping the decision that only 50% of the fencing payment was to be covered, be reverted to 100%. ‘Civvy (sic) and private settlers are not harassed in the same manner as soldiers’. During the ongoing drought around this time, Byrne lost all his lambs and about 70 ewes adding to his problems.
Byrne’s problems continued throughout 1928 and 1929. In a report written in May of that year he was seen as anunsatisfactory and unsuitable settler. His Permissive Occupancy had not been renewed after the initial period of six years had expired, which caused him great unhappiness. He wrote on 28 May 1929, ‘my whole future life and happiness depends on acquiring title to my (block). ‘Living on the edge of a precipice is wearing me down’, he wrote. He was living in fear he said, ‘of being booted off the block. Fear is a very unmanning factor. It creates a mental hell and accentuates a man’s physical disabilities’.
Byrne’s block was eventually forfeited. There were additional problems for him as he had disposed of sheep without permission at Flemington on 14 January 1932, which had been acquired with Advance money.
 SRNSW: Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files; [12/7305 No. 8440] Charles Robert Byrne, Application for Loan 14 December 1921.
 Ibid, Charlie Byrne to Director of SS, 22 January 1922
 Ibid, July 1922.
 Ibid, Solicitor Wilkins to the Under Secretary 8 December 1922.
 Ibid, Charlie Byrne to District Surveyor 7 May 1923.
 Ibid, 26 May 1923.
 Ibid, Charlie Byrne to District Surveyor 2 June 1923.
 Ibid, 23 June 1923.
 Ibid, RSS Branch Office Memorandum 8 June 1923.
 Ibid, Charlie Byrne to Under Secretary 28 May 1929.
 Ibid, 6 June 1930.
 Ibid, District Surveyor to Under Secretary 12 May 1932.
Sources used to compile this entry:
State Records NSW: Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files, [12/7305 No. 8440] Charles Robert Byrne.
National Archives of Australia: B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers (Charles Robert Byrne) online: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=3178736